There was a plethora of shapely lycra clad bottoms this morning (of which I was one by the way) at my 8th Richmond Parkrun. The weather was chilly, but not cold. The sky was a very bright grey with dashes of blue here and there and the vibe was it's usual buzzy self. I saw a few faces I recognised from my last run in October, and I assumed they must be weekly regulars. I kept my eyes peeled for the delicious Turbotortoise but she was nowhere to be seen this week so after crying my eyes out and thumping the ground shouting "NO! NO! NO!", I wandered down to the start line, through the mud (it was very muddy) and puddles and selected my place about 4 or 5 yards from the front. Everyone always says these runs are friendly, but oddly, as friendly as I am, I find it hard to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. This wasn't a problem for an elderly gentleman who boomed in a frightfully posh voice toward a group of runners in Club shirts ;
"I say! Are you chaps on your first Richmond Park run?"
"Yes, we're from a running club in Milton Keynes...."
"Oh! Jolly good! Splendid!
"We're doing 100 parkruns around the country"
"And what number are you on nowwwwww?"
"This is our 66th one."
"Well you've got a whole lot more to cover the entire country, what!!
"No, we're only doing 100."
"Ohhhhhh! Well.......welcome to Richmond!"
The last sentence was as if he owned the entire park!! People started pressing their garmins....we were off! I pressed "START" on my watch and started trotting.
Today was the first run in a week to test out my groin. It's been a bit niggley lately and I was hoping it would hold out. My initial mental state was to go for a PB, but then I thought that the strain and effort might not be the wisest of moves for my groin'age so I decided to take it steady. Or as steady as my competitive mind could handle! There were a lot of children today - very small ones at that. They looked about 7 or 8 years old and they were in great form the entire way round, running alongside their responsible adults.
Got crowded in on the narrow path heading towards Roehampton Gate and kept my position strongly and firmly, marvelling at the ponytails swishing in front of me. I love watching ponytails bob around (on women...not on men, like that dreadful oik Jimmy Bullard!) . There's something reassuringly feminine about them I find. As well as the ponytails, there was a lady in fantastic patterned running tights which held me spellbound as I was blocked in on the path. Eventually the runners thinned out and I was able to pass a few, including Patterned Tights Woman (which was sad, cos she was rather delicious) and I made my way further up the course. Heavy breathers were left and right of me and one man in a rugby shirt heaved past me, sounding like he was going to die. Then, and this could only happen in posh Richmond, a Valentines Couple were suddenly alongside me....
"Morning Serge!" The guy shouted across me to the man on my left.
"Mor.....ning" Serge tried to answer breathlessly. "How....are...phew!....you?"
"Oh we're having an easy one to-dairrrr! Little Valentines run together!"
"Ohh.....that's....phew!....nice....." Serge was dying at the 2.5K point, breathing like his life depended on it.
Posh Valentines couple passed me, but not before the guy quoted some bloody Shakespeare -
"Oh look!" He announced to his Valentine. "There's a black gate! Reminds me of that line from The Tempest....." Wherein he proceeded to quote from The Bard's work. I let them go ahead of me in case I was infected with Poshness.
Further on around the 4K mark I could hear what sounded like a juggernauts air brakes, wheezing and squeaking loudly. It got louder and louder and then a human voice sounded - "On your left!". I looked to my left and noticed where the wheezing air sound came from. Mr Wheeze 'n Puff was trying his damndest to get past me, but he had no acceleration. Cheekily I stepped on the gas very very slightly, toying with him to catch me up. The breathing was sounding now like a car engine that needs a new fan belt....."Uuughh...w.heeeeee.....yyghhhh.....SQUEEEEEEEEEE". By now he was almost level again, talking to himself - "Come ON!.....ugh....ugh....ugh".
I'm afraid I continued my cheeky game, like a cat toying with a pygmy shrew. Ever so slightly I stretched my legs and made my stride longer. The longer strides helped my groin actually and I was careful not to over stride too long. However it was enough to defeat the poor wheezing man. I knew this because he made another sound -
By now I was heading downhill and there was no way this poor chap, whose will I had destroyed with my powerful strides and leg moves, would ever catch Competitive Me!
Cue Dr Evil laugh - "Muuuwaahhh haa haa haaaaa!!!!!"
I was on the home straight., The line was ahead of me, but suddenly I felt a heavy twinge in my groin - the dodgy one! "Oh no!" I thought. "Take it easy Dan lad. take it easy!". The finish was only 30 metres away and I had just overtaken another guy, safe in the thought that no-one would pass me in the last few metres.
HOW WRONG I WAS!!
Four....YES FOUR, little ankle biters came HAAAAIRRRRINNG past me at 50 mph, with no visual apparent tiredness (oh to be young!) They can't have been older than 7 years old and they made the most GLORIOUS finish! I lumbered up behind them and took my barcode tag thing from the lovely volunteer who congratulated me on finishing. I had visions of Wheezing Man sitting in the mud, way back down the track, bawling his head off and shouting to the heavens "I bloody had him! I nearly bloody had him!!"
MUWAAAHHHHH hAAAAAHAA hAAAA!!!!!
God I'm mean. Sorry.
Still awaiting my time as stupidly, I forgot to press STOP on my watch at the finish line. I was so taken aback at being pipped by the pip squeaks that I neglected to press stop to get my time. I think it was around 27 minutes 'ish. I'll see later.
STOP PRESS : Just received time 26'34. Woohoo!!!
So there you have it! The Tale of my parkrun adventures. Ponytails, shapely bottoms, Shakespeare quotes and wheezing man. What more could you EVER want??
Have a good Valentine's Day & weekend folks. Mrs Dan liked the special chocs I got her (flowers being delivered later). We'll be having a splendid dinner with Pink Champers later too! Mrs Dan is one hell of a cook and refuses to waste money in restaurants on Valentines Day. She prefers to do that on any other day of the year!!! HA!
See y'all agin soon now,